Friday, 23 January 2009

Recession sees more journalist jobs axed as newspapers merge newsrooms

ONE of the two regional daily newspapers serving West Somerset today announced a sweeping new round of job cuts among its journalists.
The Western Daily Press will in future be produced by a joint editorial team working also on the Bristol Evening Post, with which it shares a head office in the city.
The morning paper will become a Metro-style publication with fewer dedicated reporters and photographers, and its website will also be axed after managers decided the paper did not have a digital future.
The merging of the Daily Press and Post newsrooms will result in up to 45 of the company’s 154 editorial staff losing their jobs.
The news comes almost exactly three years after an earlier round of job cuts to save money when nearly 60 posts were axed by the group.
Staff on both papers were being briefed today about the cuts, which owner Northcliffe Media - publisher of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday - said were necessary to safeguard the two daily titles.
Single content and production desks will produce both titles with staff ‘harvesting’ content from other Northcliffe-owned publications around the region.
Daily Press and Evening Post editor-in-chief Mike Norton said most of the cutbacks would fall on production rather than newsgathering roles.
Mr Norton said: “I have tried to do everything I can to avoid redundancies.
“However, I have no other option that will ensure the futures of the Evening Post and the Western Daily Press.
“This is about back-of-house production efficiencies and will not affect the amount or the quality of our content.
“We will continue to provide the best local news and advertising service through our print and digital platforms.”
But Christina Zaba, of the National Union of Journalists, said: “The NUJ is very concerned about these events.
“People really care about local news and they want good reliable local news.
“If a third of the journalists are removed from the local paper, then that news is not going to be the same.”
Tim Lezard, NUJ national executive council member for the South West of England and a former Western Daily Press reporter, said the union would campaign against the cuts.
Mr Lezard said Bristol News and Media, the local division of Northciffe, made profits of £7.5 million in 2007.
He said: “These are cuts that do not need to be made.
“It is an example of Northcliffe’s contempt for their readers, workers, and advertisers.
“The company would rather bow to its boardroom than serve the community it has been an integral part of for 150 years.”
Bob Satchwell, of the Society of Newspaper Editors, said: “These are very, very hard times for local newspapers.
“It is a very difficult problem. Even government minsters are now beginning to realise that they have got to try to find a way of helping those papers.
“Those papers are vital to local democracy and to help people know what is going on locally.”
Formal consultation with staff, including those represented by the NUJ, will continue until March 2.
  • The Northcliffe redundancies come just a month after The Post revealed two reporter and three sub-editor jobs were being axed by one of West Somerset's weekly newspapers, the Taunton-based Somerset County Gazette. The highest-profile victim of the Newsquest-owned Gazette's cutbacks was deputy editor Bob Drayton, who had worked for the paper for 40 years and received the MBE for services to his local community and newspapers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.